Serene, beautiful and friendly this wind-swept island, which lies tucked away from any major town or city, is special..… A short while in Diu and you realise that this definitely is not the regular sort of holiday destination. The atmosphere is non-touristy, no touts, clean beaches, clean streets good food, cheap wine and so on. Both, the place and pace are pleasant and definitely laid back. All this makes for a refreshing change! Does one need more from a holiday destination? Most people end up staying longer then planned!
Until recently a holiday bastion of Gujarat, this pretty island is emerging a favorite with other Indian states and western tourists. Diu, pleasant and charming could contest for among the most special places on your travel in India. There are historical reasons to have made it so, however, if you were looking for peace and tranquility, it should be high up on your agenda. Diu is quaint in every sense of the word. Until 1991, when a bridge was built, one had to take a short ferry ride across from the mainland Gujarat.
Diu was a Portuguese Colony since 1539, even after the British had left in 1947 it continued under Portuguese control until it was liberated in 1961. The place still retains a distinct flavour of a bygone era after having been run on remote control from far away Goa and Lisbon for almost four centuries. Diu, barely 36 sq. km in size, is now a union territory called ‘Daman & Diu’. Daman, lying about 600 km to the south is Diu’s administrative headquarters & further governed by Delhi!
To do in Diu…
There are a few good beaches to choose from and all offer a little different landscape and topography. You can take your pick. The waters are clean and safe and just the right temperature. Usually blue or beautiful emerald green, the sea turns brown as the monsoon approaches in June and stays this way until Sept.
- Nagoa Beach: This is the most popular of beaches on the island located 8 kms. From the town centre and connected by an excellent road, the reason for its popularity is evident from the moment it comes into view over a small hillock. This horseshoe bay is picturesque with its blue waters & green palm fringed sandy beach onto which the waves lazily roll their way. Owing to its ‘bay’ this beach is safe to swim even during the monsoon season. However look out for the stinging jellyfish pre-monsoons! There are nice walks around Nagoa; along the cliffs, in the forest nearby & to Diu town (8-10 km). The Nagoa cliffs, scenic with their almost surreal landscape are relaxing to visit & offer some great sunset views.
- Gomtimata Beach: This is a kilometer long sloping sandy beach, and if you are looking for privacy and a place away from the crowds (especially during weekends) then you have found it. Unfortunately there is no shade (tip: bring your own shade). The Forest Department of Diu has done an excellent job of planting thousands of trees. However, apart from this, this beach has it all; Soft sand, big surf, clean water, no rocks and privacy thereby making it popular with genuine Indian and Westerners beach lovers. Though it is about 9 kms from Diu town, quite a few visitors prefer to spend the day here. However you should know swimming to venture into the water, here because while it is safe; however unlike Nagoa beach, this is the open ocean in front of you & the waves can be bigger and some undertow. This beach is safe to swim November to mid April. As the monsoon season approaches, its time to head for more sheltered beaches such as Nagoa or Chakratirth or Sunset point in Diu town. There are no hotels, bars & restaurants here and hopefully it will remain this way thereby ensuring the protection of this beach from environmental points of view. This is a sea turtle breeding area and those are dolphins that you see frolicking in the water and coming so close that you can touch them.
- Jallandhar & Chakratirth beaches: These beaches closer to Diu town have their own charm & sometimes also offer more privacy as holiday revelers less frequent them. However, these beaches are rocky and one must be careful and know exactly where to swim. The sunset point is a popular spot with both locals and tourists to watch the sunset.
- Ghoghla (or Ahmedpur Mandvi) beach: As far as beaches go, it’s hard to beat this one. Like the Gomtimata beach there are no trees and so no shade. However, the white sand, water, and the gentle slope coupled with some excellent surf make it by far the best. There is usually hardly anyone on this 5 km long beach. The reason being that it is on the mainland and removed from the meeting places, restaurants and bars in Diu. But it’s worth a visit. Only 3 to 4 kms. From Diu main square and 10 minutes by auto rickshaw the entry points to this beach is at the Ghoghla Check-post.
This is a must visit & a remarkable European style fort in reasonable good condition that echoes Diu’s history.
Naida caves & quarries…keep wandering…
Have a close look at the massive Diu fort, the 20 foot thick -3 km long city wall, the massive 3 existing churches and you see hundreds and thousands of tons of hard stone. Well, where did all this stone come from? Head for the Naida caves and find out! Quarrying was done as close to the site of construction as possible and since Diu is an island of rock; you will find these interesting cave like mazes all over the island. One could wander around for hours. Take some sandwiches and water along and you could have a real nice picnic. But please, don’t litter. These quarries have been relatively untouched for centuries and with the thick green undergrowth have now become a natural habitat for a lot of the island’s animal life. Apart from the jackals, who seem to roam around like stray dogs, the old quarries are home to Hyenas and hedgehogs!!
Diu has quite a few places offering good food and most of the hotels have their own restaurants. No meal is complete without fish for most of the islanders, though there are a sizeable number of vegetarians on the island. A visit to the Vanakbara fishing jetty in the morning or the local fish markets in Diu & Ghoghla will enlighten you on the variety of seafood available. Tuna, Black/white/silver pomfret, shark, eel, palwa, shrimp, crayfish, fish-eggs, ribbon fish, Surmai etc. The food is definitely Indian and spices used robust! If you can’t tackle that most restaurant will oblige by adjusting the spice to your level and liking.
Quaint old Diu town streets: Check out the bangle makers of Shangariya, the old houses & the Nagar Seth haveli on Makataka street. And then walk about the Diu town main square area or as locally known as Bandar chowk, because this was where the boat landings were yesteryears.
- Important Historical sites to visit in Diu are:
- Diu Fort
- St. Paul’s Church
- Evening Mass: Every Day 6 pm onwards
- Sunday Mass: 8.30 am
- St. Francis of Assisi:
- Evening Mass: Every Saturday 6.30 pm onwards
- Popular tourist sites well worth visiting are:
- INS Khukri Memorial (also known as Sunset point.)
- Gangeshwar Temple
- Naida Caves
- Rukhada Tree (Nagoa village)
- Vanakbara jetty & Morning Fish Market
- Sea Shell Museum
- Diu Beaches
- Nagoa beach
- Gomti beach
- Ghoghala beach
- Jallandhar beach
- Chakratirth beach
- Other places of interest:Walk in the Diu city area covering…
- Bandar Chowk (City Main Square & Ferry Ride)
- Makataka road(Nagar Seth Haveli & Old Portuguese Architecture)
- Zampa gate area & bangle shops along Sangariya sheri